Top Shelf Productions has announced a new graphic novel from award-winning creator Élodie DurandTransitions: A Mother’s Journey, a “sympathetic and moving story of a family’s journey to acceptance.” Set to be published in November 2023, Transitions is translated for English-speaking audiences for the first time by Evan McGorray.

Transitions Cover

“In Transitions, university biologist Anne Marbot learns that the 19-year-old she raised as “Lucie” is a transgender man named Alex,” begins Top Shelf’s description of the graphic novel. “The news of her child’s transition hits Anne like a tidal wave, sweeping away all her certainties and the comfort of her tidy life. Struggling to understand her son’s new identity, she’s overwhelmed by questions like: ‘How can this be? Who put these ideas in your head? What if you regret it? Am I overreacting? How will your grandparents react? Why didn’t I see it coming? Why is this so easy for others? Am I a bigot? What does gender really mean, anyway? How can I be the parent my child needs?'” 

Top Shelf’s description of Transitions continues, “It soon becomes clear that Alex is not the only one embarking on a journey of self-discovery. The road is not easy, and sometimes their relationship is bitterly strained. But Alex is sure of himself, and Anne is determined to be strong for his sake. With time, she too will be transformed, rediscovering her identity as a mother in profound new ways.”

“Looking back, I am still surprised that the journey was so long and winding,” Marbot says in the press release. “Today, I simply say: Alex is my son.”

Transitions page 170

Durand is best known in the United States for the 2021 English edition of Parenthesis, also published by Top Shelf. The graphic novel is about a young woman diagnosed with a brain tumor, which ushered in a world of becoming a career patient. Parenthesis won the inaugural Graphic Medicine Award and was named one of the American Library Association’s Best Graphic Novels for Adults.

“When I met Anne, there was no resource in France for parents living through the transition of their child,” says Durand. “Anne felt powerless to understand or support her son. She had this desire to bear witness for others, to find a way to help.”

Thus, Marbot invited Durand to adapt her experience as a mother into the graphic novel Transitions. “As I began to research the issues, it was like a relief for me to explore the role of gender in our private and public lives,” continues Durand. “It became clear that gender is a concern for us all — that this intimate story is also the story of every family.”

In Transitions, the unique journey of well-meaning loved ones who struggle to reconcile new gender identities with their old assumptions is captured. This makes the graphic novel a must-read companion for allies and families navigating trans issues and a compassionate roadmap to acceptance.

Transitions: A Mother's Journey

“Translating Anne and Alex’s story was a moving experience that I cherish deeply,” says translator Evan McGorray. “I was brought to tears as I translated Alex’s letter to his mother at the end. As a trans nonbinary person with trans friends and family members, I have witnessed so many different positive and negative reactions from parents to the trans experience. A mother’s perspective is complex, often challenging, and Élodie Durand allows the reader to put themself in Anne’s shoes. There is such beauty in her storytelling, fact-presenting, and artwork, and it was an honor to provide the English translation for such a seminal work for parents and loved ones.”

“The world needs this book now more than ever,” says Top Shelf senior editor Leigh Walton. “Friends and family who are navigating the gender transition of a loved one may first be struck by feelings of confusion, concern, or even grief. Those feelings are real and a place to start — but the story must not end there. By documenting this journey in public, warts and all, Anne Marbot and Élodie Durand offer a helping hand to allies everywhere and a beautiful path from disbelief to passionate support.”

“Today, when disinformation, bigotry, and malicious politicians are attacking transgender people from all sides, books like Transitions can directly counteract such hatred,” adds McGorray, the translator. “I hope Transitions will be a call to action and will inspire allies to educate themselves — something that should not be the sole burden of trans individuals. I dream of the day when the trans community can live without fear, and I know that Transitions will bring the world one day closer to trans freedom, equity, and liberation.”

For additional support with a family member’s coming out and transition, families can check out PLFAG.